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NSW Syllabuses

Learning across the curriculum

Learning across the curriculum content, including the cross-curriculum priorities and general capabilities, assists students to achieve the broad learning outcomes defined in the NESA Statement of Equity Principles, the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (December 2008) and in the Australian Government's Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework (2013). 

Cross-curriculum priorities enable students to develop understanding about and address the contemporary issues they face.

The cross-curriculum priorities are:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures
  • Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia
  • Sustainability Sustainability

General capabilities encompass the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours to assist students to live and work successfully in the 21st century.

The general capabilities are:

  • Critical and creative thinking Critical and creative thinking
  • Ethical understanding Ethical understanding
  • Information and communication technology capability Information and communication technology capability
  • Intercultural understanding Intercultural understanding
  • Literacy Literacy
  • Numeracy Numeracy
  • Personal and social capability Personal and socail capability

NESA syllabuses include other areas identified as important learning for all students:

  • Civics and citizenship Civics and citizenship
  • Difference and diversity Difference and diversity
  • Work and enterprise Work and enterprise

Learning across the curriculum content is incorporated, and identified by icons, in the content of the English EAL/D Stage 6 Syllabus in the following ways.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures cross-curriculum area encompasses the concepts of Country and Place, People, Culture and Identity. In their study of English, students recognise the histories, cultures, traditions and languages of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples for their foundational and central presence among contemporary Australian societies and cultures. Through the study of a wide range of texts in a variety of media, through discussion and research, and through teachers’ programming emphasis, students are provided with opportunities to develop their understanding and appreciation of the cultural expression of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as the most sustained in the world. Text lists for each course include a selection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literature to reflect this priority. 

When planning and programming content relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures teachers are encouraged to:

  • involve local Aboriginal communities and/or appropriate knowledge holders in determining suitable resources, or to use Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander authored or endorsed publications
  • read the Principles and Protocols relating to teaching and learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures and the involvement of local Aboriginal communities.

Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia

There are strong social, cultural and economic reasons for Australian students to engage with Asia and with the contribution of Asian Australians to our society and heritage. Studying texts from Asia, about Asia and by Asian authors is one way to ensure that a creative and forward-looking Australia can engage with our place in the region. Students are provided with opportunities to develop understanding of the diversity of Asia's peoples, environments and traditional and contemporary cultures. Texts relevant to this priority are included in text lists for each course.

Sustainability Sustainability

English provides the opportunity for the development of informed and reasoned points of view, discussion of issues, research and problem-solving. English provides students with the skills required to investigate and understand issues of environmental and social sustainability, and to communicate information and views about sustainability. For example, through analysis of media articles, documentaries and digital texts, students have the opportunity to research and discuss this global issue and learn the importance of respecting and valuing a wide range of world views.

Critical and creative thinking Critical and creative thinking

Critical and creative thinking is important to the study and creation of texts in English EAL/D. Students analyse and evaluate issues and ideas presented in texts. In both thinking about and creating their own texts, they recognise and develop arguments, use evidence and draw reasoned conclusions. Students experiment with text structures and language features as they transform and adapt texts for different purposes, contexts and audiences. Students use critical thinking when they use their knowledge of language to analyse a range of texts in relation to their purpose, context, audience, structural and language features, and underlying and unstated assumptions. They investigate the ways language is used to position individuals and social and cultural groups. Creative thinking enables students to apply imaginative and inventive capabilities in the creation of their own original works.

Ethical understanding Ethical Understanding

Ethical understanding is explored in English EAL/D through the selection of texts for study, for example when students engage with ethical dilemmas presented in texts, considering reasons for actions and implications of decisions. They examine and question values, attitudes, perspectives and assumptions in texts, comparing these with their own. Students are provided with opportunities to develop greater empathy for the rights and opinions of others by interacting with and interrogating a range of texts and social situations. English EAL/D assists students to develop the skills of visualising and predicting the consequences of certain behaviours and engaging in the exploration of rights and responsibilities. They develop increasingly advanced communication, research and presentation skills to express considered viewpoints. They develop effective and ethical research strategies and protocols.

Information and communication technology capability Information and communication technology capability

There is a particular focus in English EAL/D on information and communication technology (ICT) through the use of digital texts and on understanding and creating multimodal texts. For example, students explore the effects of sound and image as they consider how ideas are communicated in digital texts. They use digital technologies when they access, manage and use information and when creating their own texts. 

In English EAL/D students use digital tools to create and respond to texts. They can develop skills in reading, viewing and responding to digital and multimodal texts and create texts using different modes and media to practise and consolidate their English language skills.

Intercultural understanding Intercultural Understanding

In English EAL/D, intercultural understanding encourages students to make connections between their own experiences and the experiences of others. Through the study of contemporary texts, texts from the past and texts from diverse cultures, students explore and analyse these connections. Students can understand and express the interdependence of language, culture, identity and values, particularly in the Australian context, and are able to appreciate and empathise with the cultural beliefs, attitudes and values of others. They study how cultural concepts, beliefs, practices and perspectives are represented in a range of textual forms and for a variety of purposes and audiences. They pay special attention to the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and Asian cultures to literature and other media in Australia.

Literacy Literacy

Literacy is embedded throughout all Stage 6 English syllabuses. It relates to a high proportion of the content descriptions across Years 11 and 12. Consequently, this particular general capability is not tagged in this syllabus.

The acquisition of proficient literacy capabilities is an aim that is integral to and embedded throughout the English EAL/D course. Literacy is the ability to use a repertoire of knowledge and skills to communicate and comprehend effectively in a wide variety of contexts, modes and media. The literacy knowledge and skills furthered through the study of English EAL/D provide students with strong foundations for current and future learning and for successful participation in the workplace, careers and wider society. The knowledge and skills also provide opportunities for personal enrichment through social interaction, further education and training, skilled employment, professional life and a range of cultural pursuits, including engagement with literature and the arts. Literacy knowledge and skills also enable students to better understand and negotiate the changing world in which they live and to contribute meaningfully and thoughtfully to a democratic society through becoming ethical and informed citizens.


Literacy is important in the development of the skills and strategies needed to express, interpret and communicate complex information and ideas. In English EAL/D, literacy skills are developed in conjunction with language learning through a focus on comprehending and creating written, spoken, visual and digital texts or a combination of these, and using and modifying language for different purposes in a range of contexts. In English EAL/D, students apply, extend and refine their repertoire of literacy skills and practices by studying the use and impact of English in texts and contexts outside the classroom and in other subjects.

Numeracy Numeracy

Students can develop skills broadly related to numeracy in English EAL/D when they identify and use various numerical, measurement, spatial, graphical and statistical concepts and skills. For example, students use numeracy skills when they create and interpret sequences and spatial information, consider timing and sequence in texts, draw conclusions from statistical information, or use quantitative data as evidence in analytical texts.

Personal and social capability Personal and socail capability

Students improve personal and social capability in English EAL/D by developing their communication skills, teamwork, and understanding of verbal and non-verbal modes of interaction. They can develop empathy with and appreciation of the perspectives of others. The study of English EAL/D helps students to understand and more effectively manage themselves and to understand different personal and social experiences, perspectives and challenges. Students identify and express their own opinions, beliefs and responses by interacting with a range of texts and social situations. English EAL/D actively assists students with the development of communication skills needed for conversation, research, presentations, and the expression of viewpoints and arguments. Students work collaboratively in teams and also independently as part of their learning and research endeavours.

Civics and citizenship Civics and citizenship

In English EAL/D students have opportunities to respond imaginatively and critically to a range of literary and other texts drawn from a range of contexts, including social contexts. They continue to consider how civic and social issues relevant to their lives are represented in the media. English EAL/D is designed to provide opportunities for students to become proficient in literacy and in using English, thus further enabling them to fulfil their roles as Australian citizens. In the course of their study of English, students can also become increasingly aware of their roles as global citizens, and of the relationship between Australia and peoples of other nations and cultures.

Difference and diversity Difference and diversity

Students experience and are provided with opportunities to value difference and diversity in their everyday lives. Age, beliefs, gender, disability, sexuality, language, socioeconomic status, ethnicity and race are some of the factors that comprise difference and diversity. In English, students have the opportunity to study ways in which issues related to such differences and diversity are represented in literary texts and in texts of other types. This imaginative investigation of complex ideas and emotions encourages the development of thoughtfulness and informed views, and an understanding of the features of a fair and just society that values difference and diversity.

Work and enterprise Work and enterprise

The knowledge, skills and understanding developed in English are important to students' capacity to succeed in post-school education and careers. English EAL/D provides opportunities to further develop many of the key skills required for effective participation in work and higher learning environments, for working collaboratively and individually, and for acquiring, processing, assessing and communicating information, both orally and in a variety of textual forms. Through their study of English, students can also develop further competence in using language appropriately for particular audiences, purposes and contexts. Effective communication skills and an understanding of the power of the English language provides opportunities for students to develop personal confidence as they move forward into the next phases of their lives. Study of a wide range of texts also provides students with an empathetic understanding of the worlds of work and enterprise.